Colorado News Roundup: Southwestern Colorado has weather blind spot (06.04.16)
Here’s what’s going on around Colorado today:
CORTEZ, Colo. — A researcher for the Colorado Water Conservation District says southwestern Colorado has a weather radar blind spot that makes it difficult to predict severe storms.
Forecasters say they are being forced to rely on radar installations in Grand Junction, Flagstaff, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and none of those stations can detect dangerous low-altitude conditions over hundreds of miles. Forecasters have to rely on satellite images, weather watchers and far-away radar images to make predictions in those areas.
Officials said several severe storms have hit the area without warning.
“We can’t forecast what we can’t see, whether it’s water supply or extreme weather,” said Colorado Water Conservation District researcher Joe Busto.
Jim Pringle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said none of the stations detect low-altitude, dangerous conditions in an area that reaches from Alamosa west to the Grand Canyon, and from Gallup, New Mexico, north to Moab, Utah.
“We would like to see a radar station in that area,” he said. “On the weather maps, you can see the gap in your area where radar does not hit.”
Scientists say the blind spots are caused in part by the curvature of the Earth. When straight-line radar beams reach southwest Colorado from the closest station in Grand Junction, they’re too high to do much good.
Last year, a winter storm hit San Juan County, Utah, as weather forecasts called for up to 16 inches of snow. That storm dumped up to 3 feet of snow in the northeast Navajo Nation, leaving residents struggling in waist-high drifts, forcing the tribe to declare a state of emergency.
Later that year, more than a foot of snow fell during a blizzard that caused whiteout conditions and closed U.S. Highway 491 from Cortez, Colorado, to Monticello, Utah, for 17 hours. The storm was blamed for a 19-car pileup that stranded motorists.
Meteorologist Jim Andrus, of Cortez, provides information for the National Weather Service in the blind spot, using the internet at the Cortez Public Library, the Cortez Journal reported.
“I’ve had several incidents where there were no radar echoes showing up on the weather channel, but it’s raining or snowing outside,” Andrus said. “Radar is not picking up low-level storms.”
In 2014, Andrus alerted the weather service to a severe storm that approached Cortez from a blind spot near Ute Mountain. The weather service issued a warning based on Andrus’ report from the ground, and people were able to scramble to safety.
“It hailed, and trees were blown down. Radar can tell you how intense a storm is,” he said.
Alleged Gangster Disciple member arrested in Colorado
ATLANTA — Federal Bureau of Investigation officials say an alleged Gangster Disciple member indicted in Georgia has been arrested in Colorado.
FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett says 38-year-old Alvis O’Neal was arrested Friday without incident by FBI Denver’s fugitive squad and the Rocky Mountain Safe Street Task Force. O’Neal was indicted April 28 in Atlanta on conspiracy charges related to his alleged criminal activities with the Gangster Disciples.
Authorities are still searching for 38-year-old Shauntay Lamarr Craig, another alleged board member of the street gang. He was also indicted April 28 on federal charges related to his gang related criminal activities. He’s the last remaining fugitive from the series of federal indictments.
Craig is described as 5-foot-10, 207 pounds with tattoos on his left and right arms, chest, right hand and left foot.
Denver police say 3 people shot to death
DENVER — Three people are dead following a shooting in a home in northeast Denver.
Denver police say the shooting happened Saturday night. Two of the victims were found dead at the scene and the third victim died at a hospital.
Police said Saturday they are looking for several men for questioning who were in an SUV.
10-year-old boy killed in Aurora after shooting
AURORA, Colo. — Authorities say a 10-year-old boy is dead after being shot Friday night in Aurora and two family members are being questioned.
Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said officers responding to reports of shots fired found the boy in critical condition at an apartment. Emergency service personnel declared him dead at the scene.
Metz said investigators have not been able to determine how the child was shot and no one is under arrest at this time.
The police chief added the two family members who are being questioned were present at the time of the shooting and a weapon has been recovered from the scene.
Authorities did not release the names of the people being interviewed.
The Aurora Police Department tweeted the shooting took place near East 16th Avenue and Galena Street.
DA: Aurora police officer justified when he shot armed man
AURORA, Colo. — Prosecutors say an Aurora police officer was justified when he shot an armed man outside a Denver motel.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey says the officer had reason to believe he could be shot when Sidney Sylvester brandished a gun during a foot chase near the Sand and Sage Motel on May 9. Officers were looking for a suspect connected to a reported shooting about 10 minutes earlier.
The Aurora Sentinel reports Sylvester was running from Denver officers when he ran into the Aurora officer’s path, coming face-to-face with the officer.
Sylvester was shot once in the shoulder. No police or bystanders were injured.
Sylvester was charged with felony menacing in Denver, but has not been charged in connection with the Aurora shooting. It’s unclear if he has hired an attorney.
Missing dog found after 10 days in woods
ASPEN, Colo. — A rescued former sled dog is back with her shelter buddy after going missing for 10 days in the woods.
The Aspen Times reports Aspen Animal Shelter took in 13-year-old Cleo from a Snowmass Village business where the former owner was convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Cleo had been adopted days before she went missing May 22.
People posted signs, put up reward money and used pet psychics, a drone and social media.
Kayaker Denise Handrich contacted the shelter after spotting Cleo along the Roaring Fork River and sharing a power bar with the slightly-underweight dog.
Shelter director Seth Sachson says Cleo likes spending time with another dog from the Snowmass Village business.
Sachson said the shelter is the best place for Cleo at this stage of her life.
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